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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Highway to Hell

The Cordiers moved from Miami, Florida to Wyoming in 1998 with their three kids, Charlotte (Class of 2000), Pauline (Class of 2004), and Martin (Class of 2007).

After studying in MontrĂ©al, Canada, they all three still live there. Their parents stayed in Wyoming where they started their own businesses: Brigitte caters with “Simply French Cuisine” and Antoine consults with SAP. You might have seen both Brigitte and Antoine running along the streets of Wyoming few times a week, for the past 20 years, anytime of the day, rain or shine. 

Antoine Cordier of Wyoming completed the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert of Morocco in 56 hours!
Marathon des Sables
Now, maybe, you heard of Cactus the dog who ran the Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) in the Sahara Desert (one of the toughest foot races on Earth in the southeast corner of Morocco) in April 2019. Or of Amy Palmiero-Winters who became the first female amputee to complete it.

However, I am sure you never knew that Antoine ran it as well. 
The 34th Marathon des Sables (April 5 to 15, 2019), was a foot race with seven stages over a distance of about 150 miles. Each participant carried his/her own backpack containing food, sleeping gear, and other material. Water was supplied by the organization, just enough to eat and drink (no shower or else for the duration of the race). “My backpack weighed 17.4 pounds without water.”

A satellite GPS device (carried in the upper section of the runners’ backpacks) broadcasted his position, which immediately appeared on an online web platform, so both his followers and the organization could follow his race in real time. “Therefore, I got a lot of support from family and friends (from the Yoga Leela and the WYCOCO) as they were following me and sending me emails that were distributed in the tent at the end of the day.”

This birds-eye view of the tents gives an idea of the remoteness and intensity of this marathon. 
Runners from 51 countries participated this year and slept in around 100 tents (just a rug on the floor and a tart on wood poles). Every runner was sleeping under the same tent for the duration of the race. Antoine added, “my was tent number 49, which I shared with seven other people, including a cousin and a friend Pierre living in Cincinnati.” Tents were removed at 6:00 a.m. and each race morning started at 9:00 a.m.with the ACDC song “Highway to Hell” played at the starting line.

A support organization of around 450 members were caring for the runners, including a team of 50 medics and nurses. 

Stage two of the race was an eight-mile hike across the Merzouga dunes. 
Per Antoine, there are two qualities a runner needs to make to the end “physical and mental endurance. I trained in Wyoming and Sharon Woods with my loaded backpack. And did yoga twice a week for stretching.”  

What about the feet? 
“I got blisters starting day one, therefore I joined the crowd of runners going to the nurses at the end of the day to get them fixed, so the next day we were all back on the starting line!”

So, would he do the Marathon des Sables again? 
“Yes, sure. I loved to be in the middle of the Sahara beautiful landscapes (The Gladiator, The Mummy, and a lot of other movies were filmed there), among runners sharing the same goal and efforts, and taking a full break (no phone, no internet, and no politics) from my daily life!”

Antoine completed it in 56 hours with few blisters, one I.V., few hours of sleep, and some pounds forgotten along the way. 783 runners were at the start, 752 completed it!
Congratulations to Antoine, and thanks for sharing your story!
The view from Antoine’s tent was a welcome sight after a long day. 

Caught on the live feed, Antoine was pictured on the right, with his cousin to his side. 

Running down the dunes was hard work. 

Antoine, second from the right, as he ran the race. 

The contents of Antoine’s backpack were only the bare necessities.

Antoine was awarded this medal for his race.

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